SCSU professor Annette Lee helps viewers see the sky as
Native Americans did
Annette Lee is assistant professor of astronomy and physics
at St. Cloud State University. Whenever she brings up the
stars in the school's planetarium, her audience gains new
understandings of the night sky.
In Ojibwe culture the fisher is a clever, fierce and brave animal and a good fighter. It climbed a pine tree and jumped through a hole in the sky to bring back the birds and, therefore, Spring.
Fishers are always moving, sleeping for just a few hours
before returning to the hunt. Like the fisher, the Big
Dipper is constantly on the move in the sky.
Through the Native Starwatchers Project, Lee introduces teachers in Minnesota and across the U.S. to Dakota and Ojibwe constellations and the stories they carry. MN teachers tune in because they are required to teach how other cultures, including the stateís American Indian tribes, have contributed to science.
ďI think itís important for people to understand that although the mainstream science uses Europe and Greek (constellations), itís important to know it comes from a certain culture,Ē Lee said. ďThere are many ways of knowing, and thatís just one way.Ē
Lee's main audience is Native American youth. She said learning about the constellations offers them a source of pride.
ďItís really giving them another connection and a connection to something thatís scientifically and culturally and spiritually based. Itís a message of hope,Ē Lee said.
Lee came to St. Cloud State University five years ago from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. Her current position enables her to use her double major in art and astronomy from the UC Berkeley. She's also earned masterís degrees in painting from Yale and in astrophysics from Washington University in St. Louis.
Lee collaborated on a project to create Ojibwe and
Dakota star maps, which were printed last year. She's now
writing two short books to augment the maps, provide more detailed
constellation images, and expand upon the stories
Village © Gina Boltz
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